Natural Wonders of Amelia Island

November 19, 2015
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Amelia Island is renowned for its pristine beaches, charming historic downtown, and world-class golf. But above all, visitors treasure the enchanted atmosphere of natural beauty on Amelia Island. With our mild winter weather and unique habitat for observing flora and fauna, we offer many ways to escape the cold and get into the wild. At the end of your adventure, all the comforts of luxurious lodging, dining and amenities await you. Here is just a sampling of the eco-tourism options:

Float. Experience the natural environment by kayak. Several local businesses offer guided kayak and SUP (stand-up paddleboard) tours of the marsh, sound and surrounding waters. Kayaking is an excellent way to view the many birds of the marsh, including egrets, herons, osprey, hawks, and even the majestic Peregrine falcon. Check out Amelia Island Kayak Excursions, Kayak Amelia, and Up the Creek Expeditions for guided and independent tour options.

Pedal. Amelia Island is known for being one of Florida's best places to bike. Options include the Amelia Island Trail, which runs from Peters Point Beachfront Park to Amelia Island State Park in the city of Fernandina Beach. Much of the paved, tree-lined route parallels Highway A1A, a scenic byway, and the trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a growing trail network stretching from Florida to Maine. Water is never far from sight, and natural beauty is abundant. Check out our trail map and the North Florida Bicycle Club for more tips and tours, respectively.

Get Romanced by the Canopy. Amelia Island’s live oaks have lived under many of its 8 flags. In fact, a big part of what makes Amelia Island so beautiful – and what literally helps preserve it – are the lush trees that comprise the maritime forest canopy, which tempers the effects of wind and water on the island’s dunes and beaches. Amelia Island’s live oaks have inspired artists, lovers and activists for centuries. View some of Amelia Island’s MOST STORIED TREES here, or take a Treasured Tree Trolley Tour with the AMELIA TREE CONSERVANCY.

Lean in. The Segway is a unique vehicle for experiencing the maritime forests, ocean views and marsh waterways of Amelia Island. AMELIA'S WHEELS is ultra-convenient for Omni Amelia Island Plantation guests and open to the public. Wooded grounds with abundant trails are a great place to begin your tour. Further South, Kayak Amelia also offers segway tours into the wild and wonderful.

Tour Safari-style. Sprawling WHITE OAK is a conservation facility devoted to the care and preservation of imperiled species. 27 species call White Oak home, including rhino, giraffe, okapi and cheetah. Step on board their open-air tour vans or trolleys to experience White Oak with all the senses. 

Explore the Greenway. EGAN'S CREEK GREENWAY consists of more than 300 acres of protected, sensitive lands between Atlantic Avenue and Sadler Road, near the center of the island. Enjoy birdwatching, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and more along two trails within the park. Guests at the RESIDENCE INN AMELIA ISLAND have access to lovely mid-point trails just behind the hotel with bikes available for rental.  

Hunt for Shark Teeth. Find treasure during your visit that doubles as a souvenir. The hunt for shark teeth on the shores of Amelia Island is a FUN YEAR-ROUND BEACH ACTIVITY. You may find the teeth of a Great White Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Lemon Shark, and other species. Search along the high- or low-tide line for best selection.  

Mingle with the Natives. At Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s NATURE CENTER, which is open to the public, families can get up close and personal with indigenous turtle, snake and aquatic creatures. Buddy, the non-native resident macaw, entertains with his mocking banter in exchange for a nutty treat.

Cruise. AMELIA RIVER CRUISES gives visitors an appreciation for the stunning wetlands while imparting amusing anecdotes on Amelia’s sweeping history. Their Eco-Shrimping Tour is a hands-on family favorite. Enjoy the sea breeze while learning about the aquatic flora and fauna that make Amelia Island unique.

Camp. Put your tent down at FORT CLINCH STATE PARK. Join a guided nature walk around Willow Pond trail, which winds through a coastal maritime hammock down to fresh water ponds. Through an informative presentation, visitors will discover a wide variety of native plants and animals.

Saddle Up. For a unique view, saddle up for one of only a handful of beach-riding opportunities in the nation. Through KELLY SEAHORSE RANCH, enjoy the scenery of Amelia's fantastic white sand beaches and the beauty of the ocean. To glide along on the Tennessee Walking Horse, contact HAPPY TRAILS WALKING HORSES.

If you prefer to visit during the warmer months, try these unique Amelia Island experiences.

Tread lightly amongst turtles. With 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. taking place in Florida, Amelia Island is one of the idyllic spots where the ancient rituals unfold each spring and summer. Home to 4 species of nesting sea turtles, those born in the sands of Amelia Island travel back to their birthplace to lay eggs. Only one in 1,000 will survive to adulthood, so protection of nesting is critical to the survival of these species. Learn SIMPLE WAYS to minimize your impact on sea turtles during your visit. In late summer, watch volunteer-led nest excavations for a chance to see tiny stragglers fighting their way toward the sea. 

Go Wild. The WILD AMELIA FESTIVAL (May 20-22, 2016) is fun for the entire family, with a free expo, events, and nature tours, all designed to showcase and educate participants about the local environment (and the critters that call it home.) The festival includes eco-tours by foot, bike, boat, golf cart and Segway – some for kids only. For a visual treat, check out winners of the 2015 WILD AMELIA PHOTO CONTEST.

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Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.